Documentary Review: ‘When War Comes Home’

Greetings again from the darkness. The tragedy of soldiers killed in action is a topic often discussed, and for good reason. Another product of war is less frequently discussed, and involves up to 20% of soldiers returning home from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Post-traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) have a deep and often long-lasting effect on soldiers, their family and friends, and even the military officers who are responsible for the troops.

Filmmaker Michael King focuses on three soldiers and their efforts to readjust to life at home after war. Wes Carlile is a former US Army Chaplain’s assistant, Emmanuel Bernadin was a Naval Technician in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Spencer Milo was a Sergeant in the US Army. The heart-wrenching story of these three men and the challenges faced by them and their families are a key to what drives Four Star General Peter Chiarelli to seek better treatment for soldiers returning home.

Of course there are those who still claim PTSD doesn’t exist (these are usually folks who haven’t experienced war first hand), but the visits to Walter Reed Army Hospital, and the plethora of interviews conducted for the film, leave little doubt that better and more effective treatment is necessary if these returning heroes are to find a way to fit back in to post-battle life.

Some innovative therapies are discussed, and the important part is that General Chiarelli and others are making certain that the studies continue. The physical and psychological challenges are our responsibility as a society, being as it’s our society that sent them charging off to fight.

The film does an excellent job of providing real life proof of the devastating (and sometimes dangerous) impact to spouses and kids. Seeing mounds of prescription drugs does little to build confidence that we are closing in on the “right” treatment. Every soldier has issues to deal with when they return home … some are able to work through it, while others need help. Mr. King and General Chiarelli are doing their part to see that the best help is available.

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